A nursing home that accepts Medicare or Medicaid as payment for services generally has to provide thirty (30) days notice prior to discharge. This applies regardless whether the resident’s care is being paid for by Medicare or Medicaid. There are some exceptions to the 30 day notice, such as a medical emergency or a safety concern regarding the resident. In those instances, notices must be given as soon as “practicably” possible.
A nursing home must provide a resident and her family member or legal representative with written notice of discharge in a language and manner to be understood by the resident. If a resident has a developmental disability or mental illness, the notice may also have to be given to certain advocacy organizations.
The written discharge notice must include 1) the reason for discharge (and those are limited by federal and state law); 2) the date of discharge; 3) the place where the resident will be discharged to; 4) notice of the resident’s right to appeal the discharge; and 5) a list of certain long term care advocacy organizations such as the long term care ombudsman. When a nursing home is discharging a resident, it must discharge a resident to a safe, appropriate placement that can meet the needs of the resident.
If a resident disagrees with the discharge or place of discharge, she can request an administrative hearing to challenge the discharge. These hearings are held through the state’s Medicaid agency. In Florida, that agency is the Florida Department of Children & Families before its Office of Appeal Hearings. The Florida Long Term Care Ombudsman advocates for residents in long term care facilities and can assist residents in understanding and navigating a nursing home discharge or challenges to one.